Has Prince William stolen Harry's eco-crown?

Has William stolen Harry’s eco-crown? How the warring princes are both battling to be the GREENEST royal with patronages, prizes and bagging environmentalist pals

  • Prince William is heading to the US to promote his Earthshot Prize next week
  • Prince Harry has come under fire in recent years for his use of private jets 

Since he married Meghan Markle, Prince Harry has been at pains to repeatedly stress his eco credentials. 

In 2021, in the latest of a slew of environment-focused speeches, he warned that climate change is one of the two ‘most pressing issues’ facing the world.

But, as Prince William continues settling in to his role as heir to the throne with an upcoming trip to the US to promote his Earthshot Prize, some royal fans may now be asking if has stolen his brother’s eco crown. 

William’s trip stateside comes at an opportune time, with a recent poll showing he is viewed more favourably in America than President Joe Biden or even Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky. 

That popularity might be down to the fact that, according to one expert, the ‘eco stuff’ is ‘huge’ with young Americans – and the Prince of Wales has done much in recent years to boost his credentials as an environmentalist. 

In recent years, William has been steadily building up his credentials as an environmentalist. Above: Sir David Attenborough meeting William and Kate and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis at Kensington Palace in 2020 

Harry has been hit with charges of hypocrisy over the fact that he is not afraid to use private jets. Above: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle board a private jet at Nice Airport in August 2019 after visiting Sir Elton John’s mansion

His biggest foray into the planet-saving business came in October 2020, when he launched Earthshot – an ambitious decade-long project to award £1million to environmental pioneers who are tackling the most pressing climate issues. 

READ MORE: Sweet moment Prince William tells Big Issue seller ‘let me get you some money for this’ as he visits Pret in Bournemouth during visit to end homelessness 

The £50million project was likened to the highly prestigious Nobel Prize.

When he announced the prize, William deliberately drew parallels with his father King Charles, who he praised as having been ‘ahead of his time’ when he repeatedly spoke about the threat posed by climate change when he was the Prince of Wales. 

Speaking to the BBC, he said: ‘I’ve always listened to and learnt and believed in what he was saying. 

‘But I knew it’s a very hard sell, you know, 40 years ago to kind of predict and see some of the sort of slow-moving catastrophes that we were headed towards’. 

The announcement came six years after Prince William founded the charity United for Wildlife, in partnership with the Royal Foundation. 

Its aim was to protect species endangered by the illegal wildlife trade.

In October last year, he again stressed the need to confront wildlife crime. 

Speaking at the United for Wildlife Global Summit at London’s Science Museum, the Prince of Wales warned the world does not have ‘the luxury of time to tackle it’.

Earlier this month, the Prince of Wales opted to take the train rather than a gas-guzzling car when visiting Bournemouth to promote his campaign to end homelessness

Prince William and Prince Harry listen during the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at Lancaster House in London on February 13, 2014

Catherine, Princess of Wales and Prince William, Prince of Wales attend The Earthshot Prize in Boston last year

Since he married Meghan Markle , Prince Harry has been at pains to repeatedly stress his eco credentials. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Redwoods Tree Walk on October 31, 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand

Prince Harry is seen marking an elephant while taking part in a wildlife project in Malawi in 2016

During his gap year in 2000, William spent three months in Chile, where he worked on community projects with the expedition organisation Raleigh International 

During his own gap year in 2004, Harry spent time in Lesotho, where he visited an orphanage

It came after William warned in a speech in 2019: ‘Either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve.’ 

READ MORE: Prince William will look to cement himself as ‘global statesman’ in his visit to US, aides say – as they insist he ‘won’t be distracted’ by survey showing he’s the most popular public figure in America ahead of Zelensky, the King and Joe Biden 

Harry’s own attempts to boost his eco credentials were evident when he set up sustainable tourism project Travalyst in 2019.

Launched with his wife, Harry spent three years as the public face of the initiative to encourage the tourism industry to become more sustainable.

Although he was left out of a major announcement by the group in May about its transition from a ‘pilot phase’ to a new board of five people with ‘world-class expertise’, Harry is still believed to be involved behind the scenes. 

But he has been hit with charges of hypocrisy over the fact that he is not afraid to use private jets. 

When he officially launched Travalyst, both he and Meghan were facing intense criticism after reportedly taking four private jet journeys in 11 days.

The Duke defended himself at the time, saying ‘no one is perfect’ and that what is important is ‘what we do to balance’ out negative effects.

Then, in 2021, he boarded a 20-seater £45million plane from a polo match in Aspen, Colorado, to his home in Santa Barbara, California.

He took the two-hour flight, which could have emitted as much as ten tonnes of CO2, shortly after he was pictured on horseback at the polo. 

Royal author Tom Quinn said at the time: ‘This appears to be enormously hypocritical, given all his talk about climate change.

‘Harry seems to see himself as someone who guides the rest of the world and that his own behaviour isn’t relevant. It is a huge blind spot.’

Prince William and Sir David Attenborough attend the naming ceremony for The RSS Sir David Attenborough on September 26, 2019 in Birkenhead, England

Britain’s Prince William, left, talks with Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and natural historian, during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2019

In 2019, when guest editing British Vogue, he interviewed hugely respected primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall. Above: The pair at St George’s House, Windsor Castle in 2019

Prince William talks with Ellie Goulding backstage at the Earthshot Prize ceremony in Boston in 2022

Prince Harry with Ellie Goulding backstage at the Invictus Games closing ceremony in 2014

The trip came just three months after Harry warned that climate change and mental health are the two ‘most pressing’ issues facing the planet. 

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey on Apple TV, Harry said: ‘I believe even more that climate change and mental health are two of the most pressing issues that we’re facing and, in many ways, they are linked.

‘The connecting line is about our collective well-being and when our collective well-being erodes, that effects our ability to be caretakers of ourselves, of our communities and of our planet ultimately.

‘We have to create a more supportive culture for each other where challenges don’t have to live in the dark, where vulnerability is healthy and encouraged and, of course, where physical and mental health can be treated equally because they are one.’

He added: ‘With kids growing up in today’s world, pretty depressing, right, depending on where you live, your home country is either on fire, it’s either underwater, houses or forests are being flattened.’

Prince William meanwhile is not known to have used private jets, beyond the RAF Voyager plane that is dedicated for use by the Government and the Royal Family. 

Earlier this month, the Prince of Wales opted to take the train rather than a gas-guzzling car when visiting Bournemouth to promote his campaign to end homelessness. 

He was filmed walking along the station platform next to a South Western Railway service, in a video posted on social media by Kensington Palace. 

Beyond his own United for Wildlife charity, William can further highlight his environmentalism streak with the fact that he is the patron of the Tusk Trust, the British Trust for Ornithology and Fauna and Flora International. 

The Tusk Trust was set up in 1990 to advance wildlife conservation across Africa. William became a patron in 2005. 

Charlie Mayhew, the charity’s chief executive, previously said: ‘Prince William’s support for Tusk over the years has been immensely helpful in raising both the profile of the charity and the funds that we need. 

‘His ability to draw global attention to the plight of endangered species being decimated by illegal wildlife trade has been warmly welcomed by conservationists across the globe and we are enormously grateful to him.’ 

Harry has also had his own involvement with the Tusk Trust, having been an ambassador for the charity in the past. 

He is also the UK patron of Rhino Conservation Botswana, which is dedicated to monitoring and protecting wild black and white rhino in Botswana.

Harry made a trip to Botswana in 2018 to meet with senior staff and members of the organisation.

But the Duke of Sussex is not a patron of any other wildlife charities and had to give up nearly all of his other patronages when he stepped down as a working royal in 2019. 

Both brothers spent time up close with nature during their gap years.

Although Harry did not follow his brother to university, he still spent time abroad before entering the military.

William spent three months in Chile, where he worked on community projects with the expedition organisation Raleigh International.

He helped build and decorate houses and playgrounds and was seen painting and chopping wood, and he also worked on a dairy farm.

The heir to the throne is also believed to have spent time in Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana, learning about the nations’ wildlife and the challenges the local environments faced.

Harry meanwhile spent three months working on a cattle ranch in Queensland, Australia and also headed to Africa, where he visited an orphanage for children with Aids in Lesotho.

It was announced earlier this year that Prince William would pen the introduction to an environmental handbook teaching children about climate change.

The book, being published in collaboration with the Earthshot Prize, aims to encourage children aged nine and above to come up with ‘solutions to repair our planet’.

Promoting the ‘handbook for dreamers and thinkers’, Prince William said: ‘Our planet is the only home we have, and we must think big and dream bigger if we are to protect it.’ 

His eco kudos are perhaps further boosted by his past work with the likes of Sir David Attenborough, environmentalist showbiz stars Cate Blanchett and Ellie Goulding and politician Michael Bloomberg. 

Britain’s Prince William feeds a baby elephant in the wild elephant valley in Xishuangbanna, or Sibsongbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, southwest China’s Yunnan province on March 4, 2015

Prince William feeds an elephant during a visit to a wildlife entre in Guwahati, India, in 2016

Prince Harry visits a Turtle Conservation Project on the seventh day of an official visit to the Caribbean on November 26, 2016

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex helps to plant trees at the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana

In 2021, Sir David sat down with William to talk about his Earthshot Prize. 

The pair also featured in BBC documentary The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet in October that year. 

READ MORE: ‘Your country is either on fire or underwater’: Harry says climate change is one of the two ‘most pressing issues’ facing world – the other issue being mental health 

And in 2020, Sir David visited William and Kate and their children Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte at their home at Kensington Palace. 

Sir David presented George with a tooth from an extinct giant shark. 

The visit came two years after Sir David had joined Prince William, Prince Harry and their father King Charles at the premiere of Netflix series Our Planet. 

The event was a rare joint engagement for the brothers amidst their increasingly fractious relationship. 

The trio were joined by Ellie Goulding, who previously performed at Prince William’s wedding in 2011. 

Goulding also attended an Earthshot Prize event in Boston, where she was pictured being greeted by Kate with a friendly kiss on the cheek. 

As for Harry’s list of environmentalist friends, he is known to have also been close to Goulding, to the extent that the pair were once romantically linked. 

In 2019, when guest editing British Vogue, he interviewed hugely respected primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall. 

The pair discussed issues including climate change and conservation. 

Prince Harry is also believed to be close to Greta Thunberg, evidenced by the fact he felt close enough to her to speak to a person whom he thought was her on the phone in 2020. 

It turned out that Harry was being tricked by two Russian pranksters who posed as the teenage environmentalist in two phone calls.

He touched on topics including climate change, Prince Andrew and him and Meghan stepping down from senior Royal duties. 

William is also known to be conscious about the environmental impact of his fashion choices. 

At the Earthshot Prize awards in 2021, William re-used a green velvet blazer that he had previously sported in 2019 when attending Centrepoint’s 50th anniversary gala.

Harry has also re-used his clothes, evidenced by his love for the same £188 J Crew Ludlow jacket that he has worn on dozens of occasions. 

On Monday, William is flying to the US to raise the profile of the Earthshot prize. 

In the recent popularity survey conducted by Gallup, the names of 15 public figures were presented to the American public, who were asked whether they thought of them favourably, or otherwise.

At the Earthshot Prize awards in 2021, William re-used a green velvet blazer that he had previously sported in 2019 when attending Centrepoint’s 50th anniversary gala

Harry has also re-used his clothes, evidenced by his love for the same £188 J Crew Ludlow jacket that he has worn on dozens of occasions. Above: Harry in the jacket with Meghan in 2018

William came top with 59 per cent while Russian president Vladimir Putin came bottom, with only 5 per cent of respondents viewing him in favourable terms.

The Prince of Wales will not be joined by his wife or children, but will get support from Earthshot champion and actress Ms Blanchett.

He will also meet the UN secretary-general António Guterres during the trip.

Later in the visit he will get wet in the Hudson River to highlight a water project.

The trip will also see him unveil this year’s 15 Earthshot finalists before November’s final.

An aide told the Sunday Times: ‘This trip is part of his evolution as a global statesman which is incredibly important, especially since becoming Prince of Wales.’ 

They added: ‘The US is very important to him. The world’s climate movers and shakers will be in New York having conversations about the future of the planet and the prince is keen to be part of those conversations and put Earthshot front and centre.

‘He has huge ambitions for what the prize can become and is extremely focused on its legacy and impact.’

The Prince and Princess of Wales will travel together to Singapore later this year for the final of William’s environmental award.

The couple will travel to the south east Asian country in November after it was selected as the destination of the third annual awards ceremony for the Prince’s Earthshot prize.

During the event the five winners of The Earthshot Prize 2023 will be awarded £1million.

The ceremony will also feature performances by world-renowned musicians and artists.

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